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A Guide to the Mandatory Reporting
of Child Abuse

 

Who is a mandatory reporter? Any adult who suspects that a child is abused, abandoned or neglected is obliged to report the abuse to the appropriate authorities. This is both a legal and moral obligation.

Who are the appropriate authorities? The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453)

State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers: (Click)

Or dial: 911 or your local police

1. When should I report?
A report must be made when the reporter, in his or her official capacity, suspects or has reasons to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. A report must be made when the reporter has knowledge of, or observes a child being subjected to, conditions that would reasonably result in harm to the child.

2. Do I have to give my name?
Reports may be made anonymously to most of these reporting numbers, but States find it helpful to their investigations to know the identity of reporters. Professionals who report are obliged to give their names.

3. A report is required when:

•   A person knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused,
    abandoned, or neglected.

•   A person knows that a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent,
    legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to
    provide supervision and care.

4. Professionals Required to Report
Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children. These professionals can be held liable by both the civil and criminal legal systems for intentionally failing to make a report. The following persons are mandated reporters:

•   Physicians, osteopaths, medical examiners, chiropractors, nurses, or hospital personnel

•   Other health or mental health professionals

•   Practitioners who rely solely on spiritual means for healing

•   Teachers, school officials and personnel

•   Social workers, daycare center workers, professional child care, foster care,

    residential or institutional workers including volunteers.

•   Law enforcement officers and judges

•   Counselors and therapists

•   Clergy, clerical staff from all denominations

•   Photo processors

•   Probation and parole officers

•   Animal control officers

•   Court appointed special advocates or Guardians 


5. Disclosure of Reporter Identity
The names of reporters shall be entered into the record of the report but shall be held confidential. The name of the reporter may not be released to any person other than those responsible for child protective services, the central abuse hotline, law enforcement, the child protection team, or the appropriate State legal representative, without the written consent of the person reporting. 

6. Failing to report abuse
Failure to report child abuse may result in fines,  imprisonment - or both.

7. Filing a False report
A person who knowingly files a report known to be false may incur fines or imprisonment.

8. Disclosure of Reporter Identity
The names of reporters shall be entered into the record of the report but shall be held confidential. The name of the reporter may not be released to any person other than those responsible for child protective services, the central abuse hotline, law enforcement, the child protection team, or the appropriate State legal representative, without the written consent of the person reporting. (Check your local jurisdiction for further information)

9. Information needed for the report

1. Child’s Name, Age, Gender, Address

2. Parent’s name and address

3. What you saw; what makes you suspicious of abuse

4. Nature and extend of the injury or condition observed

5. Actions you have taken (for example; have you spoken to the child?)

6. Where did the act occur?

7. Reporter’s name (you), location and  contact information.
(If you are willing to provide this information it is extremely valuable in following through on the report)
 

Frequently asked questions

1. What do I do if a child tells me that someone is hurting or abusing them?
If a child discloses that he or she has been abused by someone, it is important that you listen to them

DO NOT
•   Investigate
•   Ask leading questions
•   Make promises
•   Notify the parents or the care-giver

DO
•   Provide a safe environment (be comforting, welcoming, listen)
•   Tell the child it was not his/her fault
•   Listen carefully
•   Try to not react in a negative or shocked way
•   Document the child’s exact quotes (write them down)
•   Be supportive, not judgmental
•   Know your limits
•   Tell the truth and make no promises

•   Ask ONLY four questions

1. What happened?

2. Who did this to you?

3. Where were you when this happened?

4. When did this happen?

Asking any additional questions may contaminate a case. Be aware of what you
need to know as opposed to what you want to know.
Report it right away: Call your local Police and Child Abuse Hotline.

2. I know of a child being abused but I don't want to get involved.
You already are involved. By not taking action you have already made a decision to not help a child in need. If something happens to the child, can you live with the knowledge that you could have done something to help simply by lifting the phone?

3. I've called the abuse hotline and I'm left on hold forever
Hang up and dial 911 or your local police and explain that you need to make a report.

4. Do I have to know for sure that the child is being abused to report?
No. You only have to suspect that the child is being abused.

5. Can I discuss my suspicions or report to anyone else?
No. The child is entitled to confidentiality and discussing the report with others could cause the child harm. If necessary you could discuss it with the child's teacher or school principle or family doctor with the understanding that they too will file a report.

6. What are the types of abuse?
The Four types of child abuse are: 1. Physical abuse. 2. Sexual abuse (Rape, molestation, exploitation, child pornography production, distribution and possession). 3. Neglect (Physical neglect, medical neglect, educational neglect, and emotional neglect).
4. Emotional or psychological abuse.

7. Who can abuse happen to?
Any child. A child of any age, sex, race, religion, and socioeconomic background can fall victim to child abuse and neglect. Abuse and neglect may result in the death of the child or incur life-long physical or mental damage or disability.

You may be the only defense a child has. If you don't report abuse, who will?

Note: This is a guide. Local or Federal laws supercede the information provided here.
To order free copies of Mandatory Reporting Guide: (Click)

 

 

 

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